As the calendar turns too quickly to fall, it’s a good time to think about how trails have helped keep our community in bloom – even through (and especially during) the withering heat of summer.
Whether it’s a morning ride at Hidden Hoot, a training run at Soldier Ridge Trail or an evening stroll from the Sheridan Pathways onto The Green Room Trail at Malcolm Wallop Park, a fun float from Goose Creek to Welch Ranch on the Tongue River Water Trail, a picnic hike on the Prairie Loop or a full day exploring the newly-opened Bear Knuckle, The Brink, Little Bear and Cliffhanger trails between Poverty Flat and Bear Gulch East trailheads at Red Grade Trails, there’s a way for nearly everyone to get outdoors and connect with nature on the community trails Sheridan Community Land Trust builds and maintains.
But SCLT community trails are so much more.
They have become popular outdoor classrooms. Through our Discovery Sessions, volunteers teach community members new ways to get outdoors – like trail running, mountain biking, paddling and more. Discovery Sessions also provide a space for people to learn something new. SCLT has partnered with Science Kids for the Unplug learning series, had wildflower hikes, and even recently overflowed a parking lot with people eager to learn about Bighorns geology along Red Grade Trails.
But it isn’t just SCLT who uses these trails as outdoor classrooms. Science Kids routinely uses Red Grade Trails as a venue for its summer classes. Several of their Nature WY videos with Wyoming PBS were filmed at Red Grade Trails and now help students across Wyoming and beyond learn about nature. Find them at https://www.wyomingpbs.org/naturewy/.
SCLT also incorporates stories of our local history on the trails. People can learn the identities of mountain peaks as seen from The Link Trail thanks to a panoramic trailside sign. It also includes names Native American Tribes have for the Bighorns and peaks as well as historical stories from our mountains. At Red Grade Trails, there are trailside signs that tell stories of Native American Tribes and the history of Red Grade Road. Even more stories are included on kiosks. In the valley, SCLT has developed historical stories for each access location along the Tongue River Water Trail and people who float the trail will even be able to listen to those stories while on the water. These trails have also served as venues for Discovery Sessions dedicated to local history.
Some of the community trails are on land that SCLT has worked with landowners to conserve. The Soldier Ridge Trail System takes visitors through important open space with spectacular viewsheds. It is also actively grazed, with cows and calves frequently encountered along the trail – and it is right on the edge of town. This gives people a closer view to an important part of our local economy and culture while providing a way for people to get outdoors and into nature. It is an example of how recreation and ranching can work hand in glove.
The Green Room Trail is on an important open space conservation easement on Sheridan’s growing north edge. As this part of our community grows, this vital open space will continue to a valuable place people can get outside and connect with nature close to home.
As you can tell, SCLT’s trails really tie our communities together. They are a welcoming front porch. Our history storytelling and preservation invite even more to gather on our comfy veranda. This metaphor wouldn’t be complete without a conservation program that ensures the local lands and ranches that make up our back 40 – and our front and side 40s, too – put food on our tables, fuel our economy, shelter wildlife and provide those signature Sheridan County views that are so special!
Like so many folks who have called Sheridan County home through time, we’re proud of what our community has helped us build. And we’re excited to showcase it all at SCLT In Bloom, presented by Sheridan Media, this fall.
We invite everyone to join us for a fun-filled evening that will highlight how you can help conserve local lands and ranches, preserve and tell stories of our local history and connect our community to the outdoors. The night will feature storytelling and Q&A with Dr. Douglas MacDonald, an archaeologist who will share insights into the 11,000-year-long history of Native American Tribes in Yellowstone.
There will also be a Paddle Raise, live and silent auctions and a raffle for a shotgun made right here in our community by Weatherby. Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dessert starts at 6:30 p.m., on Saturday, September 10 in the Whitney Center for the Arts at Sheridan College.
Join us as we celebrate connecting people to land and history at SCLT In Bloom. More info & RSVP at https://sheridanclt.org/events/in-bloom-2022/.